Hardwick T-Shirt Incident Gains Attention from Local ACLU - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/1/05

Hardwick T-Shirt Incident Gains Attention from Local ACLU

New developments in the controversy concerning the way a Lubbock ISD principal handled a group of sixth grade students. Last week, the principal of Hardwick Elementary called about half the sixth grade students into the cafeteria for wearing red. That's where a police officer discussed the dangers of gang activity with students. But many parents argue the officer threatened students.

1/28/05
Hadwick Elementary Principal Under Parents' Microscope
Several parents tell NewsChannel 11 they are livid with one Lubbock Elementary School principal. They say he pulled nearly two-thirds of Hardwick Elementary's 6th graders out of class and accused them of being in a gang because they were wearing a red t-shirt.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is now investigating the incident. Meanwhile, a concerned parent continues to demand an apology, which she says she hasn't received.

Parent of a sixth grade student, Laurie Long said her daughter told her this, "She said he told them he could hurt them, handcuff them and as he spoke to them, he spoke to them with handcuffs in his hand; that's how he pointed to them."

45 sixth graders, all wearing red, all warned about gang activity.

Long says her daughter was accused of being in a gang. "They called everyone, they told everyone in there, you're gang members. You are the 'Bloods," said Long, who also works in the library at Hardwick. She says she didn't hear school officials talk about gangs until last week. She feels the school took the wrong actions to approach any existing problem.

President of the local ACLU, Harvey Madison agrees, and he plans to move forward with an investigation. "We don't need policemen coming in and threatening sixth graders who've done absolutely nothing except wear the shirt their father put on them," said Madison.

In a letter, the principal says they've dealt with a gang that wore white t-shirts. The letter also says students "Proceeded to tell their friends in the sixth grade to wear red t-shirts the next day as a sign of defiance."

The message was to wear red, however some students knew why and some did not. Madison says what happened to the students behind closed doors doesn't reflect freedom. "This is an example of what happens when we become paranoid about crime and violence and so forth," said Madison.

Many parents have defended their children. Now evidence of support was visible Wednesday with stickers for Principal Neeb, which Long says creates a larger distraction than gang activity ever did. "Kids are wanting to know what's that for? I guess they're asking whose side are you on," said Long.

The ACLU says this will be a difficult case because the state has been lenient in the past when it comes to disciplining children.

Lubbock Indepentent School District still refuses to comment on the incident.

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